Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Hunger and Urgency of the Movement's Moment

There is a hunger in our movement for discussing the state of the movement, and future directions. Every session that I've attended today that had part of its focus as immigrant rights also wanted to focus on national strategy, especially now given that the Senate Bill, is as far as we can see, dead.

There was the first press conference this morning from 9:30 am - 10:00 am at the Immigrant Rights tent.

The first workshop I went to was hosted by the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and facilitated by Cathi Tactaquin from NNIRR and Hamid Khan from South Asian Network. The second one was one facilitated by Susan Williams and Monica Hernandez of the Highlander Research and Education Center.

What I captured from the conversations that people wanted to call out and lift up in terms of strategy were the following:
  1. calling out the DC groups - their lack of accountability to grassroots groups, to groups outside of DC.
  2. more education -- both internally in our own communities, and between communities (race, gender, nation, sexuality, documentation status and others) about the different lived experiences
  3. more media work that supports the effort at internal education - this means for us, doing work in immigrant communities through youth and ethnic media. For white folks, it means not shying away from the discussion on racism, and learning to listen in a deep way.
  4. to stand in meaningful solidarity with each other
  5. healing work for the hurt and trauma and fear of those affected -- detainess, former detainees, their families & communities
  6. education -- the link to colonialism -- if there's one thing we learned from all the struggles to decolonize, ongoing and past, it's that we can't play by their rules.
  7. doing anti-oppression work -- one woman brought up that she entered the work on immigration through work against domestic violence with women on the border, calling attention to the many ways that violence manifests, and the different ways that we are made vulnerable.
anyway, that's what i can think of right now.

come visit us at the Immigrant Rights Tent!

the march

what a
relief to walk out of the MARTA station at 2:30 yesterday in the afternoon, in the sweltering heat, and hear and see this from the inside of the train station!

Faces of the Immigrant Rights Caucus

how do we do the things we do? and why?

I think the way we do things reflects a lot about our real beliefs and values. Not just the values in terms of words, but because the way we do things is what has been made real and visceral, made it into the body and the heart, beyond the intellect.

and so that's why I appreciate the way we opened up the orientation, a chance for all of us to meet new people in the Caucus, a space for people to congregate, to leave things, to express a visual solidarity.

It is one of the strengths, the power, and a product of a lot of love, many years of trust building, that these are leaders who are here to serve -- that reflect, that listen to the shared analyses and help encapsulate them. Listening to the same conversation in many places is helping us to consolidate, to bring together this analysis. So even tho the workshops are supposed to be different, sometimes they are similar. These are the wan hua (10,000 flowers) blossoming. Conversations, sparks, moments.

And that we were able to embody our movement -- the diversity of race, sexual orientation, gender presentation, and also, to bring with us as many parts of our whole selves as possible into the space - art, song, movement, visuals. I hope it's a piece that we can bring into being continuously in our work.

It's why I do popular education, but really, why that philosophy of wholeness, I attempt to bring into most everything I do. Organizing, political work, and even some times recreational activities -- transforming the spaces in which we live, work, play, sing, and love each other.

That's a vision I learned in part from the environmental justice movement, and from the many different kinds of feminist and womanist movements.

Other key elements of this work together, through which we enact the better world we dream, are dialogue, and collaboration.

As some of the folks I've been talking to about popular education have reminded me, just acknowledging our problems together are basic ingredients of transformational organizing. That it breaks the isolation of a problem and helps us realize the collective and systemic nature of oppression.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Wasatch Range or Knowing Our Place

Immigrant rights in flight and on the road from Oakland to the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta

by arnoldo garcía

I asked him if he knew the name of the mountain range visible in the distance, as our jet-plane sauntered along towards the runway. He said, “No; I’m not from here.” He smiled a sheepish smile adding in self-defense, “But I do come here once a week.” Our plane turned into the headwinds, gained enough speed and lifted up gracefully towards the east, grazing the mountain range without a name with the tip of its wing. I am coming from Oakland to Atlanta through Salt Lake City, where I will learn the names of the original peoples, the natural world and her landscapes, her languages.

Oakland is a city of migrants. I came to Oakland, too, from a long tradition of migrants.

On the way to the Oakland airport, we drove by new corridor of housing, commercial and semi-industrial development that’s been underway for more than a decade. Gentrification, in a word. These new developments are the surface of the root causes of displacement. East Oaklanders – mainly of color, working class – are having to move far away to afford rent and also find work. And who’s replacing them? Mainly white but professionals moving into the inner city to save the environment, to live the neighborhood where they plan on living in walkable neighborhoods, with local shops and neighbors. Capitalist stability trades human lives for the center.

As the plane reached higher and higher altitudes, the quilt of cities and agriculture fields below, the quilt sewn by working class hands emerged in all its beauty, in full, wide angle. The curvature of the earth is the best place to put your hands – where humanity has held onto, cradled its head to sleep secure in the cosmos, on her shoulder. I remembered or realized that the migrant knows her place, where she’s from, where’s she’s going, and where she’s at.

When you look closely, migration is the human way of life, the human story of life and its deepest struggles and dreams. When we migrate, we dream of return, of home because we are not welcomed where we now call home. Migration is local, regional, national, trans-territorial, international; yet the impacts are always in my neighborhood and in my community, wherever I come from and go to.

Root causes, different yet the same everywhere

We say that the root causes of migration are political and economic instability and conflict. Instability is stability for some communities. In East and West Oakland, there is a lot of political and economic instability for those who live there now. Those moving in are working towards stability; this means some of their poorer, working class neighbors will have to move or choose to live in increasingly stressful situations.

My African American neighbors eventually sold their home to a young white couple with a growing family. The housing price boom was good to both of them. But did they want to leave? The last straw was when their son was killed by the violence that plagues young men of color wherever they live.

One night a bunch of Oakland police raided their home in the middle of the night. Our dog, who usually barks at anything that makes noise or passes by the house only, growled this time. She too was very scared of the police in riot gear, the heavily armed men in black, appearing as menacing shadows in the night to arrest a young black man for violating his parole.

My neighborhood in east Oakland has gone from majority African American, Latino, Asian and some whites to majority Latino, Asian, African American with a growing number of whites – more than I have seen in the last 20 years.

This is one of the faces of metropolitics – managing growth, smart growth the government declares it, at regional metropolitan levels. The metropolitics of smart growth is about dispersing poverty throughout a region, among other things. It turned out that the majority of under-utilized and abandoned commercial, industrial and housing districts were where majority communities of color live: East Oakland, the Fruitvale (also known as Jingl-Town), West Oakland, China Town. Or San Francisco's Bay View Hunter's Point, which had the highest percentage of home ownership of any other district in The City.

Smart growth turned out to be the same old growth that led to our segregation and abandonment. That is, this time dispersing, displacing the poor from the urban center to the suburbs, where the jobs they can do are located and leaving our neighborhoods, corner grocery stores and other community amenities behind. Wherever people of color go they still have a hard time affording the rent and other amenities.

Smart growth believes that the poor will benefit from living in the midst of stable working people, middle and upper classes. It means making it safe for the stable working people, the middle class, to move into the city, abandoned by capital and community over the years, now revitalizing, thriving with transit villages and downtown housing, cinemas, boutiques, microbreweries, fancy cocktail bars and transportation. And that the middle and upper class will be good for the inner city, because suburbanization will recede, saving the environment, bring investment into the inner city – but for who? Instead of smart growth, just growth, healthy growth, jobs, homes, services, schools, clinics, hospitals, bowling alleys, art galleries, neighborhoods where we live, work, study, worship, play.

In easterly Oakland, the new housing, condos, expresso café shops, tequila bars, the beautiful placita, a growing diversity of clothing and other stores and restaurants that provide amenities are popping up – but they’re not for the people who have lived here for generations and are now disappearing.

The expensive but tasty coffees and pastries, the wi-fi hot spots, the occasional boutiques, the new houses, even the old houses, are not for us, not for day laborers, not for the young black and brown men and women, the perennially unemployed who are forced to hustle, sell drugs or sex for the cheapest price. Not for domestic workers, not for the transnational mothers cleaning homes and taking care of someone else’s children while his and hers languish alone in apartment buildings, on street corners or exist in a neighborhood in another country.

Working class immigrants and people of color, the working poor and their families, double up and triple up, to afford rent and food. Sometimes unscrupulously, neighbors call in the inspectors to force renters to move out for housing code violations or for illicit going on’s next door, the plight of the poor or working poor, who face homelessness. In the suburbs, it’s not much different. In addition to doubling up, they also rent converted garages and work two, three jobs or make the long drive back to Oakland or San Francisco to work for minimum wage jobs to survive far away from their old homes.

“Where do the people go?”

In NNIRR’s documentary, Uprooted: Refugees from the Global Economy, Francisco Herrera sings the blues in English and Spanish, asking “Where will the people go? A donde vamos?” when they are forced to abandon their homelands, their communities, their neighbors and family. They go where they can survive, which usually means where their families can be together. Because only together, where everyone works even two or three jobs, can families survive. Family reunification means emotional and economic stability. Without comprehensive stability, migration usually enters into the picture. Migration is not just about crossing international borders. It’s also crossing metropolitan borders, defined by city, district and regional borders.

Day laborers, immigrant workers, are working at landscaping, janitorial, day-wall construction, washing dishes in the back rooms of restaurants, cooking, cleaning tables and houses, making rooms up at hotels, sweeping sidewalks, cleaning up floods at people’s homes. They are street-vendors and pushcart workers selling ice cream, tasty local fast-food from taco-trucks and mini- kitchens on wheels. They are almost former migrant farmworkers who are leaving the fields forever, if they’re lucky, and try surviving in the city.

Why do they move into the inner city, where life is hard, unstable, filled with risks and empty of sufficient and needed services, such as health care, social services, decent schools, safe neighborhoods free of police and passer-by violence? Why do they leave the intimacy of their lands and communities, where they are different, where they are vulnerable?

The short answer is the same reason workers and middle class people become international migrants – to go to where their national and regional investments and resources have been abducted to. They are involuntarily displaced and forced to choose where they will survive. Not all become international migrants; some become regional migrants, commuters finding work close by in their metropolitan regional economy. Some move away to other regions, some of them into international regions, transterritorial regions straddled by global cities separated by geography, united by migrants and capital mobility.

The New Urban Regime?

Saskia Sassen, the renoun radical urban planner, in her theoretical work calls this state of affairs the new “urban regime,” a new relationship between high-skilled, high wage workers and white collar professionals who can afford to pay and need the services of low-wage, lower skilled workers, usually but not exclusively immigrants. The new urban regime is also about global cities that share a transterritorial and transnational economy. The urban regime is also one way of describing the relationship between international migrants and the local and regional economies.

Migrants serve and provide services that otherwise metro-communities could not have or afford to have without the infusion of low-skilled, lower waged workers who also serve national poor and working class people and the upper and middle classes. Yes, the poor among the poor, the working class among the working class also needs the migrant laborer to survive. Competition at the bottom is fueled by those at the top who bid and underbid for the services of the working poor, the undocumented and documented, the citizen and non-citizen who live day to day, week to week, stabilizing the regional and national economies, the neighborhoods.

This is the deep demographic shift, the demographic revolution, taking place in the U.S., casued basically by neoliberal policies and social, political and economic restructuring where services, investments, jobs, capital, infrastructure and the labor power and skills needed follow suit.

Immigrants open cuisine restaurants, dry-cleaning shops, offer domestic and childcare services, high-end tailor stores, clean yards and create dream landscaping yards; drive taxis and bicycles transporting people and business deals downtown. They are paid survival wages. They revitalize the inner city. This is the U.S. version of “three for one” remittances programs, when foreign governments at the federal, state and local levels match one dollar each for every dollar a migrant sends to their home community. Three for one is actually six for one – their remittances that aren’t sent abroad play the same dynamic, development role in revitalizing urban and suburban centers.

When immigrants do this, especially undocumented immigrants, they are forced to leave a gaping hole back home. The situation back home is also a victim of this “new urban regime.” If the local or regional economy does not serve this relationship between high-skilled/high waged labor and low-skilled, lower waged workers, it too is abandoned as its industries and workers are forced to leave.

The businessman commuter flies in and out of cities – maybe through no fault of his own – doesn’t know where he is from, where he is at or where he is going. He doesn’t know the names of mountain ranges and landscapes, made by human labor, that he is flying over. He says he comes here once a week, has never learned the names of the places or their languages. He’s a local of the sky, where you can see everything but are are from nowhere.

This is the first time I fly into Salt Lake City and rush from one plane to the next, like a true commuter, with no time to look around, drink coffee, talk a bit with someone who knows where she’s at, knows the names of the mountains and who the Ute were, how the Wasatch got their names, maybe.

I want to know what languages she speaks, why her dust is so salty, ancient sea, oldest ancestor, elder sister whose mountain range acts as a couple of hands that cup to hold the moving sea of the last terrestial big bang. What are her names and why have they been changed? What are our names and why have they been changed? What have we lost and what have we gained in this latest terrestial big bang known as globalization, neoliberal capital development, structural adjustment that de-adjusts our communities, destabilizes us for generations?

This is why we're going to Atlanta, to think out loud and in private about as many problems and solutions as possible, together. Immigrant rights are none other than plain old rights, human rights, for everyone. We are all immigrants, todos somos inmigrantes. Well, many of us are and many believe they're not. And that's the root of the problem.

In-Flight Observation

I am watching the movie on the plane “Breach – based on a true story.” Isn’t all art, cinema, movies, film, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, analyses, narratives, history, political struggles and organizing, community stories, our daily bread and tortillas all based on true stories? That is the true story of the human imagination, human migrations.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Its Here! The First U.S. Social Forum

by Colin Rajah

Its been a long time coming – more than 3 years since the April 2004 meeting in Washington DC that launched the United States Social Forum (USSF) process! NNIRR has been at the heart of that process, even before that historic meeting in DC, in consultation meetings with the World Social Forum (WSF) International Council in Miami back in November 2003. From the Central and Executive Committees, to the Timeline and Site Selection Committee (when all those existed!), NNIRR and a core group of committed grassroots organizations started paving the way to the USSF with little more than a vision and some hope.

As one of the very first members of the National Planning Committee (NPC), Program Work Group co-chair, and Immigrant Rights Plenary co-chair, the process has already enabled us to build new relationships, enhance existing ones, create new understandings within and between movements, and allowed us to envision a stronger and more united social and economic justice movement in the U.S.

Immigrant Communities Leadership and Participation in the USSF

NNIRR has focused on ensuring that immigrant rights communities and organizations have had a central role in organizing the USSF, and that immigrant rights-related issues are sufficiently represented throughout the USSF program. This has led to over 25 NNIRR member organizations and more than 200 individuals from those organizations participating in the USSF. Alongside a number of those organizations, we also drafted security considerations for immigrant participants and their allies and a checklist for travel plans (see and

Immigrant Rights Plenary

NNIRR’s participation in the NPC has also indirectly resulted in Immigrant Rights being established as one of the six USSF-organized evening plenaries at the Civic Center, scheduled for Friday (June 29th) at 8:00pm following the Indigenous Voices plenary. Moderated by NNIRR Director, Cathi Tactaquin, the panelists represent a broad cross-section of the sectors within the Immigrant Rights movement from various regions around the country, and promise to engage in exciting debate and dialogue on where the movement is at, where it can and should go, and what its relationship is to other social and economic justice movements in the U.S. For more details about the plenary, visit:

Immigrant Rights Caucus & Tent

NNIRR has also initiated an Immigrant Rights Caucus and an Immigrant Rights Tent at the USSF. The Caucus will launch their participation in the USSF with an orientation and march preparation on Wednesday (June 27th) at the Immigrant Rights Tent, where we will also depart for the opening march together. The Caucus is also having dinner checkins at the tent from 5:30 – 6:00pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (June 28th, 29th & 30th) before departing together to the evening plenaries each evening. Communications for the Caucus will be done primarily through the Caucus' wiki: All immigrant rights organizations are invited to participate in any of these Caucus events. Other events, workshops and meetings are also being held at the Immigrant Rights Tent and a full schedule of these will be posted on the wiki and at the tent.


In addition to all these, NNIRR is also lead organizing the following workshops:

  • Trade & Migration: Exploring the Intersections of Trade & Immigration Policies from Community Perspectives
  • The Battle for Immigrant Rights and the 2008 Elections
  • Linking Communities to Stop Border Militarization and Interior Raids/Deportations: A National Community Dialogue

And NNIRR is involved in co-organizing and/or participating in the following workshops:

  • Approaches to Organizing on Trade
  • Countering the Bilateral Free Trade Agreement
  • Immigrant Rights Messaging
  • Bringing the Immigrant Rights and LGBTST Movements Home

This very first USSF promises to be an important catalyst for social and economic justice in the U.S. Coming on the heels of historic immigrant community mobilizations around the country over the last year, it is also a critical opportunity for us to take stock of where our movement is positioned within the larger context, and how we can and should be more attentive to and engaging with other movements.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Notes from the 1st Southeast Regional Immigrant and Refugee Rights Training Institute!

Tuesday, May 29 -- a long flight to RDU (Raleigh Durham International) from Oakland, leaving early morning, over packing for two weeks away. ... looking forward to NOT living my nightmares about the upcoming gathering. Chapel Hill seems so much smaller than I remember it, and less glamorous ... the 15-501 is the same highway I remember from my days in Durham, and Durham, must have grown, but somewhere else ....

Central to the theme of IRRTI and popular education in general is the concept of opening space for dialogue. So much of the "technology" of popular education is embodied in the way that facilitators open space for participants, as well as wroking to ensure that the full complement of people that arrive are the ones who need to be in the conversation. So far, we have always been challenged to be able to bring all our people fully into the space, and partially that is because of all the real kinds of diversity and experience that is embodied in the rooms. We were lucky that the beautiful space at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill was made available to us. The energy of the space - open, light, color - I think helped reinforce the kind of energy we wanted and needed.

Wednesday, May 30 -- spent all night uploading documents to Kinko's for the participant packets, and revisiting the rooming list. Visited mary&parrish events LLC. The hotel is full, and we started sending people to the other hotel. Man, are we really paying for all this?! Phone calls all day. The Highlander crew arrives this afternoon. Yeah! The workshops are great, getting worked out, and Chris Z. arrived in time to hang out and drink beers with FF and MH and me ... good times ....

Thursday, May 31 -- Facilitator briefing, site tour. The facilitator and volunteer briefing ended up happening BY THE POOL! who says we don't roll in style? People arriving all day. An orientation to the South and to the shared goals of the IRRTI in the region. Long nights with all the different facilitation crews for the different workshops we're all working on ....

Friday, June 1! -- Opening Day! Chris Z's new name is Kinko's Guy. Our opening combines the IRRTI tradition of taking full time to get to know each other, of setting up the space for multilingual settings -- the skits really helped to reinforce the space --

Leah and Monica's South / mapping exercise is a great way to help build collective education and knowledge on the diversity of the South, the regional geography in relation to space and natural resources use, very important in a military-ag-prison-industrial complex economy that shapes social and economic, geographiocal and political, and some times cultural, relationships. ....

Here's some of what we brought with us to IRRTI .... to Chapel Hill ....

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Overview of Senate Bill 1348

Overview of the Senate Proposal
Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 – S. 1348

Provisions in the Senate bill for legalization and a guestworker program would not launch until a number of conditions were met for greater enforcement mechanisms and practices – the “trigger” process demanded by legislators who believe in an “enforcement first” approach to immigration reform. Although Congress has speculated that the specific triggers could be met in 18 months, there is no set deadline by which these triggers must be met in order for these other provisions to launch. The lengthy bill includes many provisions, with the main components summarized here:


• Immigrants unlawfully present in the U.S. prior to Jan. 1, 2007 could apply for a “Z” visa within the first year of the program, and must be currently employed, pass a background check and meet other conditions.
• Applicants would need to pay a $1,500 fee, a $1,000 fine, and $500 state fees (payable in installments), and be currently employed. The total cost for a family of 4 could be as much as $9,000 for the initial application process.
• If approved, would be given temporary probationary status with permission to work until the “triggers” are met.
• After the triggers are met, the Z visa is issued for 4 years, and is renewable indefinitely every 4 years provided the applicant remains fully employed, shows progress in learning English and civics, pays more fines and fees, and meets other conditions. Z visa holders would receive work authorization and could travel and change jobs.
• The head of household has 8 years to return to the country of origin – “touchback” – and apply at the U.S. consulate there for legal permanent residency. However, this application can only be filed during a five-year period after the “backlog” of pending visa applications filed prior to May 2005, has been cleared. The application will be considered under the new merit system, and again, the applicant must pay a $4,000 fine, filing fees, and all back taxes, have remained continuously employed, and have met other requirements. (There are many estimates that the waiting period would be 8-13 years for decision on an LPR application, with only 87,000 visas available per year).

While many undocumented immigrants and their families could benefit from this provision, it is a long and complicated process during which immigrants could lose their status, not be able to bear the financial costs, and become even more vulnerable to workplace exploitation for fear of losing their jobs during this probationary status. Because children and spouses not with their family breadwinner as of January 1, 2007, would be ineligible for the temporary status, the program would perpetuate the separation of families.


• The proposal would make a major shift in immigration, by establishing a merit-based point system (education, language, job skills, family ties) for eligibility for legal permanent residency, replacing the current system based on family reunification.
• Automatic family reunification (not subject to new point system) would be limited to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens.
• Applications from children over 21 years of age, for brothers and sisters and parents would be considered under the new point system.
• There would be an annual cap of 40,000 visas for parents of U.S. citizens, and a cap of 87,000 for spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents.
• Family applications filed before May 2005 (approximately 4 million families) would be exempt from point system; however, those who filed after this date would lose their place in line and need to re-apply under the new point system.
• The program would aim to clear the backlog of pending applications within eight years.

The introduction of the merit-based point system de-values family reunification as a core principle in U.S. immigration policy and would favor English-speaking, highly skilled and educated immigrants who are perceived to better “fit” into U.S. economic needs. At the same time, the limits placed on some categories will continue to increase backlogs and fuel the predicament of those who will migrate without the benefit of legal documents in order to reunite with their family members.


• As amended, the bill would provide for 200,000 “Y” visas each year, a number which could be adjusted every 6 months based on market fluctuations.
• Participants could include spouses and minor children if they could prove they had health insurance coverage and their wages would be 150% above poverty guidelines.
• Applicant must be matched with “willing” employer, using the labor certification process. Employers may use labor contractors and recruiters.
• The program would provide 2-year visas, renewable 2 more times; however, if the worker is accompanied by dependents they would only receive a single 2-year, renewable once. Family may only remain during one of those 2-year periods.
• The worker would need to return to his/her home country for 1 year between each renewal. If the worker failed to leave on time he/she would be permanently barred from any future immigration benefit.
• There is no eligibility for legal permanent residency. While working in the program, “exceptionally skilled” immigrants could earn points toward a limited number of point-based green cards.
• The program would only come into effect after the triggers are met.
• The bill largely includes the provisions of the AgJOBS bill; it sets different eligibility standards for legal permanent residency and which is not subject to the trigger mechanism.

The expansion of the temporary worker program undermines labor right immigration update to reviews for all workers, native or foreign born – designating a secondary tier of workers without the same rights as other workers. It disrespects the principle of family unity and perpetuates the system of disposable immigrant labor.


• Increases in immigration enforcement must be made and certified by the Secretary of Homeland Security before the legalization and temporary worker programs would launch – a period projected to be about 18 months (although there is no legally mandated timetable). These triggers include:
o The hiring of 20,000 Border Patrol agents;
o The construction of 370 mile fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers, increased high-tech surveillance and detection equipment along the U.S.-Mexico border;
o As amended, the DHS would certify that the U.S had “operational control” of the border as a trigger condition;
o Increased capacity to detain up to 31,500 persons a day on an annual basis;
o The nationwide electronic employee verification system is in place and being utilized.

• The bill also strengthens employer sanctions, increasing fines and penalties against employers who hire the undocumented.
• The proposal expands the list of document-related crimes and penalties, and makes document violations a deportable offense.
• The legislation further undermines due process, access to the courts, and expands the aggravated felony category.
• The proposal supports the indefinite detention of noncitizens with final orders of deportation.
• The bill expands the definition of a “gang” and involvement in a long list of offenses (including past affiliations) that would make association with such a “gang” involved in such offenses a basis for deportation.

The substantial enforcement provisions of this bill, largely promoted as the “first steps” in immigration reform, continue the pattern of linking immigration services and enforcement to national security. S. 1348 would invest huge financial resources towards tough-sounding and expedient programs to “deal with the illegal immigration problem.” However, in 20 years of implementation, the employer sanctions program, a central provision of the sweeping 1986 immigration bill (IRCA), has had no impact on its stated purpose of reducing undocumented immigration. The employee verification system, already proven to be error-prone and unreliable, would strengthen employer leverage over immigrant workers, increase discrimination and continue criminalizing of undocumented workers. Likewise, the heightened militarization of the border would increase rights violations in border communities, and contribute to the steady rise in migrant deaths.

Other enforcement-related provisions also have serious negative impacts. For example, applicants for the Z visa program could risk deportation if they were found to be using false documents and their applications were denied – which would deter and prevent many from applying to the program.

(Thanks to Board member Susan Alva with the Migration and Policy Resource Center for her summary of the legislation, incorporated here.)